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No protected troop transports for Russians?


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Someone in the Beta board pointed out awhile ago that the vast bulk of Russian infantry walked, And walked and walked and walked. if they were lucky they were herded into train cars and transported to within a reasonable distance before resuming the march. But mostly they walked.

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The vast majority of Soviet divisions had no motorized transport at all. If they were moved by anything other than foot or rail it was in trucks that were held by higher levels of command.

The Soviets were the only major combatant in WW2 that did not have a domestic form of armored transport. I think this speaks to the amount of concern the Soviets had for their soldiers.

The Soviets did receive a decent number of scout cars and halftracks from Lend Lease. It's hard to know exactly how they were utilized, but they were definitely a rare thing on the battlefield.

Steve

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The Soviets were the only major combatant in WW2 that did not have a domestic form of armored transport. I think this speaks to the amount of concern the Soviets had for their soldiers.

Steve

Well I don't know, I think that's a tad unfair. The Soviets saw the value of armored personnel carriers during the war, the problem was they just couldn't justify laying down the resources to build them when proper tanks were just so damn important. In fact no one built terribly good APCs during the war. The best was probably by Hanomag and it was still bulletproof only in the barest sense. Post-war the Red Army built loads of APCs, and later invented the IFV. I don't think it was that they just didn't care.

The Soviets ate up things like the M3 Scout Car and Universal Carrier whenever they could. Problem is the M3 did not last long in production and the Universal Carrier was highly valued.

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The vast majority of Soviet divisions had no motorized transport at all. If they were moved by anything other than foot or rail it was in trucks that were held by higher levels of command.

Much depends on the timeframe. Soviet combat units did have limited organic transport, but generally, motor transport was organized into independent Transport Brigades which were seconded to combat units as the need arose. The Red Army was chronically short of tractors, so most of the effort went into moving guns and supplies. Once they reached the Front, infantry walked, as they did pretty much everywhere.

The Soviets were the only major combatant in WW2 that did not have a domestic form of armored transport. I think this speaks to the amount of concern the Soviets had for their soldiers.

Nonsense. That's like saying GIs were so soft they had to have trucks to ride around in. More to the point, it speaks to how the Soviets chose to utilize their limited industrial resources. The automobile industry was put to work building tanks, first T-60 and T-70s and later the ubiquitous SU-76. They still continued to produce trucks, but in smaller numbers. Many of these ended up in Guards Mortar (Katiusha) regiments, either as weapons platforms or as ammunition carriers, as did many L-L trucks.

The Soviets did receive a decent number of scout cars and halftracks from Lend Lease. It's hard to know exactly how they were utilized, but they were definitely a rare thing on the battlefield.

American vehicles of any description were extremely rare before 1944. About 3000 M3A1 Scout Cars were received. As in other armies, they were used primarily in reconnaissance units and as staff vehicles. It was not uncommon to see them hauling 57mm AT guns. Of the 1200 halftracks received, most were used to haul artillery, particularly the 76mm ZiS-3, 85mm 52K AA gun and 100mm BS-3 AT gun.

It's not hard to know how they were utilized, if you know where to look. There has been considerable investigation into the workings of the wartime Red Army in recent years. It is no longer enough to make assumptions and justify them on the basis of "there are no records" because there ARE records, copious records, that spell it all out. I can suggest several books on the topic to whoever it is on your research staff who reads Russian.

Regards

Scott Fraser

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Well I don't know, I think that's a tad unfair... Post-war the Red Army built loads of APCs, and later invented the IFV. I don't think it was that they just didn't care.

Yes, that's a good point. After the war they certainly did put a lot of effort into APCs/IFVs. Still, there's a point to be made about why they chose to prioritize they way they did (see below).

The Soviets ate up things like the M3 Scout Car and Universal Carrier whenever they could. Problem is the M3 did not last long in production and the Universal Carrier was highly valued.

They also highly valued the Valentine and to some degree the Sherman too.

Much depends on the timeframe. Soviet combat units did have limited organic transport,

Towards the end of the war this was true for many heavy weapons units. Even in standard infantry units. This is where the great Soviet/Russian revisionist dismissal of Lend Lease value runs into problems. Without the hundreds of thousands of LL trucks there's no way critical assets would have been organically motorized on such a scale. Operationally it is hard to argue this made no difference to the outcome of the war in detail, even if the ultimate end would have been the same without them.

Nonsense. That's like saying GIs were so soft they had to have trucks to ride around in.

I overstated my point and I think you misunderstood what I meant. And that is the Soviet Union did have to prioritize and in that process they assigned a lower value to protecting their infantry. This is not just a conclusion drawn from the lack of APCs. Quite the contrary. The Soviet doctrine is amazingly consistent in both theory and execution.

It's not hard to know how they were utilized, if you know where to look. There has been considerable investigation into the workings of the wartime Red Army in recent years. It is no longer enough to make assumptions and justify them on the basis of "there are no records" because there ARE records, copious records, that spell it all out.

I'll ignore the implied insult to our ability to conduct research and simply state that you are partially correct. Absolutely it is vastly better than it once used to be, but even with Russian speaking people with access to original Russian documents there are a lot of gaps in the knowledge base. That has been our experience working on Red Thunder, both in terms of TO&E and Orders of Battle. Again, compared to when I did this back in 2001 the quantity and quality of information available has vastly improved. Same for American, British, and German TO&E too, BTW. Huge improvements, but still a maddening number of times when the information simply isn't there, is incomplete, or is contradicted by another source to some extent or other.

I can suggest several books on the topic to whoever it is on your research staff who reads Russian.

Again, you've misunderstood my comments. I know the scout cars were used by recon. I know that the Valentines were also a preferred substitute for the T-70, which again was recon by 1944 (though officially not even that). I know that Shermans were not mixed in with T-34s within a Brigade/Regiment. I know that halftracks, which came in several flavors, were used primarily to tow ATGs or (in the case of M-15) a substitute for the truck mounted AAA. I also know that the general rules of Guards units getting preferred treatment diminished over time, especially in 1944 and 1945.

I was talking more-or-less about very specific TO&E assignments. Were they used by X formation more than Y? If there were not enough to spread throughout all Regiments/Brigades within a Div/Corps, were they kept together in one Regiment/Brigade (ex: 3 in 3 Platoons for X and 0 in 3 Platoons for Y) or did they spread them out more (ex: 1 in 3 Platoons).

Then again, perhaps I have this information at my fingertips. Since we're not doing Lend Lease stuff I haven't bothered to dig back into this topic as it is currently irrelevant.

For what it's worth the vast majority of German divisions had no motorized transport either. I was surprised to learn the German Army on the Eastern Front was only about 20% motorized/mechanized. The rest relied on good old fashioned horses, or "shanks' pony".

They partially compensated for this by the use of vast numbers of captured trucks. But that meant a huge array of parts to burden the supply system with and mechanical quirks to give mechanics headaches.

The German motor vehicle production was a mess. I mean a huge and ungodly mess. Their approach to production stands out, in my mind, as the best example of how inefficient and incompetent German production was for most of the war.

However, in terms or prioritization the Germans did put a lot of effort into armored transport. And yes, that effort came at the expense of other production (be it trucks, assault guns, whatever). So although my statement about Soviets not putting value on infantry may be overstated in this context, clearly Germany, US, and Commonwealth forces put a higher priority on it than the Soviets. Heck, even the Japanese had APCs.

Oh, and to be fair to the Soviet Union, there was one other major combatant that did not have armored infantry transport; Italy.

Steve

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They also highly valued the Valentine and to some degree the Sherman too.

I heard both vehicles frequently ended up being used for Reconnaissance. Seems like a misuse, but then again the Germans used lots of armored cars and half tracks for recon so I can imagine they had difficulty performing proper screening when the opposition was likely to consist of 30+ ton armored vehicles.

The German motor vehicle production was a mess. I mean a huge and ungodly mess. Their approach to production stands out, in my mind, as the best example of how inefficient and incompetent German production was for most of the war.

What's really weird to me is how the Germans would somehow manage to build utter hordes of some weapons, like the Pak 40 or Bf 109 but were absolutely befuddled with 400 different models of Opel Blitz. Which made proper mass production of those trucks impractical. No wonder so many Panzer Divisions subsisted on captured trucks. Not that those vehicles make the parts and readiness situation much easier.

Oh, and to be fair to the Soviet Union, there was one other major combatant that did not have armored infantry transport; Italy.

Steve

Italy was just starting to figure out in 1940, in the desert, the importance of basic motorization. I'm sure Commando Supremo had proposals for armored infantry carriers, but rejected them based on expense. Probably right, but a better idea might had been to re purpose all those worthless pre war Fiat and Carro-Armato tanks into infantry carriers by simply removing the turret and cutting most of the superstructure down. Much like the Kangaroo carrier.

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Italy was just starting to figure out in 1940, in the desert, the importance of basic motorization. I'm sure Commando Supremo had proposals for armored infantry carriers, but rejected them based on expense. Probably right, but a better idea might had been to re purpose all those worthless pre war Fiat and Carro-Armato tanks into infantry carriers by simply removing the turret and cutting most of the superstructure down. Much like the Kangaroo carrier.

In the end, Italy didn't have a well-enough developed industrial infrastructure to support the creation of a mid-C20th mechanised army, whatever desperation methods they might have tried. They still wouldn't have had the trucks they needed, let alone armoured passenger-seats.

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... This is where the great Soviet/Russian revisionist dismissal of Lend Lease value runs into problems.

That's a thing of the past. During the Soviet era, L-L was denigrated or dismissed as unimportant. More recently, there has been considerable research into Soviet archives and "revisionist" historians have done much to put L-L in its proper perspective. Today there are quite a few Russian books on Lend-Lease that detail the equipment that was provided, how it was deployed, and assessments of its impact.

I overstated my point and I think you misunderstood what I meant. And that is the Soviet Union did have to prioritize and in that process they assigned a lower value to protecting their infantry. This is not just a conclusion drawn from the lack of APCs. Quite the contrary. The Soviet doctrine is amazingly consistent in both theory and execution.

No big deal. Internet forums are like that. My own opinion is that it had nothing to do with disregard for casualties but rather that it was simply deemed necessary to concentrate limited resources on the production of tanks, before trucks, locomotives, etc. That much is on the record, and evident in procurement policy. The decision was taken in 1941, at a time when Soviet industry had virtually collapsed. If that meant infantry rode tanks instead of trucks, then so be it. It was necessary to win the war, and in that, it succeeded.

As for the rest, I don't know what resources are at your disposal and so should not comment. I do know there is a constant stream of material coming out of Russia and that it takes effort, experience and language skills to stay on top of it. I follow that, collect some of it, and as I said before, I can suggest a number of (Russian) titles that may help to fill in details regarding specific equipment or operations, whatever the case may be. The offer stands.

Regards

Scott Fraser

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I recall the last episode of the 1984 German miniseries 'Heimat' that covered life in a small German town from prewar to the 1960s. One of the town industrialists had placed an incongruous bronzed pair of broken-down army boots at the entrance to his company. They were there as a reminder of his long walk the length of Europe to get back home after the war ended. During the war years there was a LOT of walking going on.

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"did receive a decent number of scout cars and halftracks from Lend Lease. It's hard to know exactly how they were utilized"

I can speak to that a little. I agree that information on it is scarce, but here my impression from multiple sources over a decade or two on the general subject of Red Army organization and practices.

The main formations that got these light armor vehicles were the mechanized corps, the motorcycle recon regiments, and various cavalry-mechanized groups that were frequently used as operational exploitation forces on secondary routes of advance. They did not mount whole units - the closest approximation to that was some late war recon regiments that might have whole battalions mounted in US made M3 scout cars - while typically at least one other full battalion in the regiment still used motorcycles.

The full halftracks were more often used as HQ vehicles in the motor rifle components of the mechanized corps (both mech and tank) - they typically were not numerous enough to mount whole units. They were also used to transport heavy weapons in those formations, or as movers for their artillery type weapons (both towed ZIS-3s and medium and heavy mortars). Basically for stuff heavier than line infantry that might have trouble keeping up with the column otherwise, and had less battlefield maneuverability near contact. Line motor rifle infantry could just dismount and was expected to be able to approach after doing so, as needed, but man-handling a gun or heavy mortar to contact was harder - hence the utility of halftracks for those elements.

Besides HQ, they were also used for similar high value bits right behind the front that benefited from the mobility and survivability - AA weapons, forward observers, communications elements, and the like. All, only in the "richer" mech corps.

As for the motorcycle recon forces, those always had a component not actually mounted on cycles, usually trucked. It is just too inefficient to lift the entire formation on cycles, they don't have enough carry each. They are wanted to enable rapid splitting and scouting all possible routes at all unit scales, but the reserve elements and such weapons as they had all benefit from heavier movers. That was trucks early war, later a lot more of it was scout cars (wheeled rather than half tracked), while weapons HQ etc as above might be in halftracks. They also used light armored cars - the motorcycle infantry alone lacked punch and even light armor raised it considerably.

As for the cavalry mechanized groups, they were formed by attaching tanks to cavalry formations, and expected to maneuver off road, and exploit much faster than leg infantry. Trucks with limited off road ability just didn't help such formations, because their operationally utility came so much from being able to traverse terrain that was hard for standard mechanized formations to cross, while also being faster than leg units. But halftracks fit the bill. This use is only quite late in the war, however - through most of 1943, the non-tank portion is all horse cavalry, and even in 1944-5 it is not mechanized cavalry - but it is moving in that direction, with heavier tank arms attached, a full tank corps working with 2-4 cavalry divisions for example, bringing with it trucked elements etc.

The main place you'd find an M3 scout car would be in a motorcycle infantry regiment or battalion carrying a portion of the force, with others on bikes. The main place you'd find a full M5 halftrack would be as an HQ vehicle for a motor rifle company in a tank or mechanized corps, and similar.

What I have been able to glean, FWIW...

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That's a thing of the past. During the Soviet era, L-L was denigrated or dismissed as unimportant.

You need to get out on the Web more :D Soviet revisionism is alive and well, but relabeled Russian revisionism. The same motivations are behind both. Specifically, an overinflated sense of national pride. It's not just about this either. You can see Soviet flags being waived around in the current Crimean crisis.

My point is there are Russian based websites out there that still claim Lend Lease was but the stem of the cherry on the Soviet Union's beat down of Nazi Germany. There are similar websites about how current Russian AFVs are the best in the world despite either a) never been battle tested or B) never made it past prototype state.

Of course there are many ignorant and stupid websites saying idiotically unsupportable things about pretty much everything out there.

No big deal. Internet forums are like that. My own opinion is that it had nothing to do with disregard for casualties but rather that it was simply deemed necessary to concentrate limited resources on the production of tanks, before trucks, locomotives, etc. That much is on the record, and evident in procurement policy. The decision was taken in 1941, at a time when Soviet industry had virtually collapsed. If that meant infantry rode tanks instead of trucks, then so be it. It was necessary to win the war, and in that, it succeeded.

As I said, they prioritized based on what they thought would win them the war, not what would increase survivability of their forces. That was a deliberate decision made in concert with many other shrewd prioritizations. And it definitely allowed them to win the war. It also allowed a large number of Soviet soldiers to not see that victory as they were dead.

As for the rest, I don't know what resources are at your disposal and so should not comment. I do know there is a constant stream of material coming out of Russia and that it takes effort, experience and language skills to stay on top of it. I follow that, collect some of it, and as I said before, I can suggest a number of (Russian) titles that may help to fill in details regarding specific equipment or operations, whatever the case may be. The offer stands.

Thanks, but I don't expect there is much more out there for us to use. I say this as someone who has probably spent more time on detailed TO&E, from more nations, with more sources of information, than all but a handful of people on this planet. And not just WW2, but also contemporary. There are a couple of common truths I have come upon for *all* nations of WW2:

The documentation sucks

It's full of gaps, contradictions, departures from what happened in the field, inconsistent implementation, inconsistent level of detail, lack of documentation of "important" (for CM anyway) details, etc. And I'm talking about the better ones, such as US TO&E. Trying to find out low level details from Hungary or Romania is really bad. Maybe it will be slightly better now than before, but I doubt it will surpass my expectations.

The simple fact is that CM requires a huge amount of consistent data across many nations over a very long period of time. It's inevitable that we will never have sufficient resources to satisfy our needs. Fortunately it's good enough!

Steve

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As I said, they prioritized based on what they thought would win them the war, not what would increase survivability of their forces. That was a deliberate decision made in concert with many other shrewd prioritizations. And it definitely allowed them to win the war. It also allowed a large number of Soviet soldiers to not see that victory as they were dead.

Steve

The Soviets were students of their own history, and had come to the conclusion that Russia took heavier casualties when on the defense than when on the offense. This conclusion had also proven true when Napoleon invaded and then Hindenburg. This may also have unfortunately led to the many piecemeal offensives the Red Army carried out in 1942 that did little but waste men and equipment. It was however later refined into the titanic assaults that became Bagration and Vistula Oder. Soviet Deep Battle. Thus as far as Stakva was concerned, winning a war and surviving a war were one in the same for Soviet Russia. Their would be no negotiated settlements, no armistice, no truce. Half way measures that had literally never-ever worked for Russians in the past, in the Red Army you either went big or went home. This mentality was later reflected in the Warsaw Pact and Group Soviet Forces Germany during the Cold War.

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...in the Red Army you either went big or went home. This mentality was later reflected in the Warsaw Pact and Group Soviet Forces Germany during the Cold War.

Thank god they decided to go home in that one. A full-blown war between WARPAC and NATO is not pleasant to contemplate.

Michael

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Well in reality the Soviets did wage a number of proxy wars against the west through burgeoning communist states in the third world. Pretty much the only acceptable method for anything less than outright World War as far as Soviet leadership was concerned. Of course the problem with this strategy was that Soviet leadership wasn't for it.

I didn't pick it up from any single source but in my opinion the Soviets just did not take non-European communist regimes seriously. They only cared about Cuba insofar as they could use it as a forward base against the US. They did not care a wink about Kim Il Sung, or Ho Chi Minh, largely because their interpretations of communism were not the Soviet interpretation (Soviet interpretation essentially being Russian hegemony). Racism also played no small part, so much of which was aimed towards the Chinese that Mao virtually broke off relations with the Soviet Union not long after Stalin died. Not that the two of them ever got along.

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